Making the Most of Your Meetings

Oh no, not another meeting! At some companies, meetings have become synonymous with wasted time. When a meeting is announced, employees immediately begin to think of ways to get out of it. It doesn’t have to be this way. If done properly, meetings can help you employees perform their jobs better. Here are some tips on conducting effective meetings.

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  1. Decide if it’s even necessary.

This is the first question you need to ask. It may have been scheduled a long time ago, with no clear agenda, with too many people. It may no longer be needed. Often, what needs to be communicated can be accomplished through email and doesn’t even require face-to-face interaction.

You need to be clear exactly what the purpose of the meeting is and what you want to accomplish by having it. You need to have an agenda that is clear and detailed. It should be circulated before the meeting. Some business experts estimate that half of the agendas for meetings are simply recycled.

  1. Keep it short.

Studies have shown that after 30 minutes, people begin to tune things out at a meeting, so it is important to not waste time at a meeting with extraneous items. If you absolutely need to go longer than 30 minutes, schedule breaks. Also, agenda items at the top of the list generally get more attention than those further down, so plan accordingly.

You also need to stick to the agenda. If someone brings up an issue not on the agenda, make a note of it for discussion at a later date, either at another meeting or among those involved.

  1. Target goals, ideas and solutions.

In other words, you should focus on results, the ends and not the means. It is generally just a waste of time to listen to people’s stories of how they got to a particular goal or made a particular achievement, unless that is the explicit purpose of the meeting. Don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees.

  1. Don’t dwell on disagreements.

If there are conflicting viewpoints on an issue or course of action, and they cannot be easily resolved, don’t waste time trying to hash through things at the meeting. Save it for another time when those involved can discuss it on their own.

  1. Stick to the particular and the concrete.

Avoid straying into abstract, conceptual language when discussing problems. Focus on real examples that people are confronting people in their work. Dealing with specific, concrete instances where problems are occurring will help people to more easily grasp what is going on and more directly engage with it to come up with a solution.

When talking about situations or dilemmas, avoid getting caught up in emotions and focus on the data, the actual evidence of what is going on.

  1. Draw up precise deadlines.

Meetings should revolve around results and outcomes, goals to be reached. Without deadlines, there is no accountability for achieving those goals, and no way to begin to assess your efforts.

  1. Sum things up briefly.

At the end of the meeting, everyone should clearly understand what was accomplished, the important points that were considered and what comes next.

  1. Follow up with an email.

At the end of the meeting, someone should be chosen at random to put together a short email to record the decisions made, the main ideas that were covered and the action plan that was decided upon, and send it out to all the participants and any others who need the information.

If you and your team members decide after a meeting that you need more workers for a crunch project, reach out to Helpmates. Contact the branch nearest you and talk to us about your staffing needs.

Does Your Business Really Have a Healthy Culture? Questions to Ask Yourself

A healthy culture at your company is critical today because you can neither attract/retain top talent, nor maintain high productivity, yet culture is often something that companies pay little attention to, regarding it as nonessential.

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Turning a dysfunctional culture around isn’t easy, but unless you do so, you’ll have a lot of unhappy people working for you (until they leave). And in a world where social media plays such a big role, news of your unhealthy culture will spread quickly, scaring off potential job candidates.

Here are some questions to ask yourself regarding your company’s culture issues.

  1. Do you even have a culture?

Some companies don’t. In one recent survey, only a little more than 10 percent of workers responding said they actually understand what their company culture is. Another study revealed that only about 41 percent of employees know what makes their workplace unique.

You can outline the culture you would like to have, you can even believe that you have the culture you want. But to find out the culture you actually have, you may need to survey your employees.

  1. What are your foundational values?

Have you clearly defined them, and are your workers aware of them? Do they guide the operation of your company? For example, if you have defined one of your values as innovation, how well do your employees collaborate and share ideas to foster innovation? Or if one of your foundational values is diversity, how well is it actually represented in your company?

  1. Are you honest with job candidates about your culture?

In their eagerness to land new talent, some hiring managers tell job candidates what they want to hear. In their efforts to sell the company, the managers may exaggerate a little or shade the truth. This is a recipe for failure. Managers need to be honest and up front about what the company is really like. Otherwise, the new hire will leave when they discover things aren’t as they thought.

In fact, about one-fourth of all new employees leave their job in the first three months. The main reasons for this are misunderstandings about the nature of the job and the company. If a lot of new people are leaving the company, you need to find out why.

  1. Do your business partners reflect your values?

Companies rely on independent contractors and consultants. Do these business partners share the foundational values of the company? If not, this could create friction in working relationships, and even worse, possible exposure to legal action.

  1. Are employees engaged?

If there is a good alignment  between the values of the employees and the company, workers will be more satisfied with their jobs and more engaged, resulting in better performance all around.

One of the aims of company culture is to instill a sense of purpose and meaning in the work of employees. Posters with motivational quotes just won’t cut it. Employees stay at a company because they feel that they are making a contribution, that their work matters and that their career will flourish and they will grow at the company.

To create the culture you want, you need to survey your employees about their perceptions and share the results throughout the organization. To move forward, you need to establish a collaborative process for creating the culture you and your employees want, involving input and buy-in from workers throughout the company.

Are you looking for employees that will thrive in your particular culture? Contact Helpmates: we’ll help you source, vet and place workers who “get you.”

The Upside of Employee Turnover

Companies try to avoid employee turnover as much as they can, and that is as it should be. Generally, If you are hemorrhaging people, it is usually an indication that something is wrong.

Plus, there is the time, money and effort involved in hiring people to replace those who have left.

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But it’s not all bad when it comes to turnover. And that is precisely because of what it can tell you about how things are going at your company. Turnover can be a useful bellwether of your business’ health when you look under the hood to determine what is driving that turnover.

High Turnover

If turnover has been going up, there are naturally two questions to ask – who is leaving, and why are they leaving?

If your top performers are jumping ship it’s obviously a cause for concern. But if the ones leaving are poor or mediocre performers, that’s less of a problem.

You may find that more people are leaving at about the same time that you are instituting changes at the company in its culture or operations. It could be that the people heading for the exits are unwilling or unable to adapt to the changes being made. In this case, their departure may not be that distressing. It gives you the opportunity to bring on board people who are a better fit for the culture you are trying to create at the company.

On the other hand, if people are leaving because of outdated skill sets, it is often better to try and keep them and retrain rather than simply hire new people.

But here is where the why of leaving becomes important: employees could be leaving because they are uncomfortable with the changes being made or because they are not getting enough support during the transition. In that case, you risk losing the good performers with those who are discontented. It’s not always easy determining the reasons for turnover, but exit interviews and employee surveys can help get at the root cause.

Low Turnover

At the opposite end of the spectrum is very low turnover. At first glance, this might be reason for celebration. But again, you need to go beyond the simple metric to look at what is going on behind the numbers.

For example, you may have people who have simply fallen victim to inertia. They show up each day and do just enough to get by and collect their paycheck. They may have no intention of leaving because they are comfortable in their jobs – possibly too comfortable – with no impetus for change or improvement.

To find out if this is the case, you need to survey employees anonymously to find out their level of engagement and their intent to stay with the company. If you find that levels of employee engagement are not all that high, but people have no plans to leave, you know that they are pretty much just marking time.

Your next step is to drill a little deeper and find out which departments are affected the most. Then you can take steps to work with these employees and raise their performance levels. Managers should meet with these employees to assess their interests, strengths and training, conducting performance reviews and looking at ways to improve.

Low turnover or a constant churn of employees leaving: if you’re looking for great workers, call the Helpmates branch nearest you. We can supply skilled associates for your temporary, temp-to-hire and direct-hire opportunities. We look forward to hearing from you.

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